Proverbs 4:23-27 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
Quick review: There are reasons why we need to draw lines.
- Like a fence is a line that keeps the sheep from wandering off, keeps from straying.
- Keep unity when fear grips the sheep. Fences are anti-scattering and protection.
- Fences, guardrails save lives. They are there before the danger zone.
- Creates a ‘sin-free zone’ so we can please the Lord and have a deeper relationship with Him.
- Keeps us, our treasure, safe from the thief.
Holiness and sanctification are not a destination. This is a journey. It’s a moving target. This is not an issue of salvation. It is, however, an issue of maturity. Salvation is different from holiness. However, the issues of holiness can intertwine.
Holiness and sanctification involves that ugly word—discipline.
There are three teachers of holiness.
- The Bible. This is a standard that we all must obey.
- The Church. This is what the leaders in our church set as guardrails for us that we, as a body, need to submit to.
- The Holy Ghost. This is our own personal standards, where we submit ourselves to the Spirit of God which dwells in us.
Holiness is from the inside out.
Mat 23:23-26 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”
All we need to do to be clean on the outside is to get enough Holy Ghost flowing inside, the overflow will clean up all the rest.
You must guard your heart!
1 Thes 5:23-24 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
If you let God work in your life, He will help you, guide you, and change you.
Your mind is basically your intellect. Your heart deals with intellect, but more feelings and emotions. The soul deals mostly with eternal breath, but it is also where the appetite or desires are born. The soul is the part that is self-conscious. The spirit that is God-conscious or God-aware. You must guard what goes into your heart!
Jer 4:14 “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?”
Psalm 141:4 “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.”
Jer 17:7-10 “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
You’re not supposed to follow your heart. You’re supposed to tell it what to do.
You’re supposed to put some things into your heart and leave some stuff out. You need to guard your heart.
You’ve got to guard the emotions, thoughts, the things that come in.
The Holy Ghost is what you need to receive first.
Rom 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
This is the least that you can do. This is the main agenda for your heart. It is wicked and must be changed. Sometimes, I don’t feel saved. Sometimes our feelings will lead us astray. Sometimes ladies don’t feel beautiful, but that is not true. You need to realize that praise and worship is beautiful. Tell your heart what to think and feel.
Nobody can make you feel a certain way!
Nobody can make you angry. You choose your emotions. At times situations present themselves a little easier to feel a certain emotion, but you need to put some lines in there and choose. Be transformed in this area and allow God to protect you.
Your appetite and lust lives in your heart. Lust is not just about sex. It is merely the appetite of man out of control. Man has normal appetites, such as food. But, when it is out of control, you can put too much food in or food that isn’t good for you. Overindulgence or out of control appetites can lead to sin. These appetites have to be kept in check. You need to guard against these things. Put your heart on a Holy Ghost, Word of God, Apostolic diet.
You do some stuff for your physical appetites, you need to do some stuff for your emotional appetites.
1 Peter 2:11 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”
Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
Lust is a process begins in your heart. You cannot cast these appetites out. They are there. You cannot remove from yourself stuff that makes you want to sin. They have to be under control. Lust starts in your mind. It has to be conceived in order to become sin.
James 1:14 “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”
This is where temptation is. It is enticed to come beyond a line, on the outside of that fence. This is drawing away from holiness and purity. There isn’t sin yet. You’re just tempted to cross the line. If you put your line far enough away, you’re still okay.
You get tempted, but it starts in your mind, internally.
James 1:15 “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Conceived is when it’s clasped or grasped. You’ve let it get planted in your heart. That’s when sin takes places. We need to have lines to protect our hearts.
Lust has to be conceived in order for it to become sin. For example, if you see a half-naked woman on a billboard and a thought enters your mind, that isn’t sin—yet. But, if you keep entertaining that thought and let it take root, then it becomes sin.
Mat 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Looking at a woman is not sin.
1 Cor 7:1 “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
This doesn’t mean that you can’t give a lady a high five or a handshake. It’s talking about all the desires going on in the mind.
Prov 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
It’s all in the mind. Anything that gets into your mind has to come through your eyes or your ears.
Psalm 101:3 “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”
This is timeless. This has nothing to do with culture or what side of the world you’re on or what race you are. Issues of holiness are timeless and eternal. David wasn’t talking about R-rated movies. He was talking about looking at nothing that is evil, nothing that will entice us to sin.
It’s not about ‘What movie can I watch?’ ‘What’s the rating?’ or a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about setting some lines for yourself and being disciplined about what you set before your eyes. Be careful what you’re looking at. If you’re watching something where all ten commandments are being broken even five minutes, you might want to think about what you’re setting before your eyes.
TV and movies pump values into our world. You identify with a character in a movie and put yourself in his or her shoes. It’s not just kids that do this, everybody does. Even though aliens aren’t real, we watch how people deal with the aliens and it usually doesn’t include God. You’ve got to watch out what you put in front of your face.
What do you have going on in your head? Garbage in—garbage out.
There is a book called, ‘Issues of the Heart’ which talks about four monsters in your heart. (There are more than four, but these are the main four.)
- Jealousy. Proverbs 6:34 “For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” Jealousy says, ‘God owes me something.’
And an Extra two:
There are things that you can do that you have to do to guard your heart. There are people and places that you can avoid, songs, books, movies, etc. that you can avoid to draw lines in your life to guard your heart.
I John 2:15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
You need to make a difference between stuff that’s holy and stuff that’s common. Stuff that’s in the world may not destroy you, but a love for it will. You can’t fight the principles of God. There is a difference.
1 Thes 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
If it doesn’t look right, don’t do it!
Rom 12:17 “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
When in doubt, throw it out. Living for God is not filled with do’s or don’ts. You can’t do anything to be saved. We are saved unto good words, but not by good works. To look at someone and say, ‘You’re not as holy as I am,’ is not holy! You’ve just lost your holiness. God is our Savior. The blood of Jesus must be applied. It has nothing to do with our good works. There is no other way to be saved. Works cannot take away our sins.
We don’t stay at the initial salvation. God loves you just like you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way He found you.
There is great influence on you by the people that you hang with.
There’s a story of an eagle who fell out of its nest as a baby and grew up with turkeys, thinking it was a turkey. One day, it saw a beautiful eagle flying high who said, ‘Come join me my brother. You were meant to soar.’ So, the young eagle spread his wings and took off.
The Lord is waiting for some of you to leave those turkeys behind and start soaring with the eagles. You were meant for so much more!
I Cor 15:33 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
Prov 13:20 “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
2 Cor 6:17 “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
Get away from the turkey! You don’t go to a person and say, ‘Get away, you’re a turkey.’ Instead, talk about the Lord with that person.
Ex 29:37 “Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.”
Does that which is not holy become holy by contact? No. Does that which is unholy when it touches holy become unholy? Yes.
Jesus had dinner with sinners, but he didn’t have contact. He didn’t engage in sin with them.
Do you bring Jesus home with you? If you do, He will help you decide what stays and what leaves. I would rather have what I have in my home now as a pastor than all the entertainment this world has to offer. When I have a headache, the kids don’t reach for Advil, they pray for me.
Excerpted from a sermon preached by: Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full audio of this sermon (and other great sermons!) click here.
If you are in the Chicagoland area, come to The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm.